– By Hannah Tait
On the 23rd February 2017, Australia for Dolphins entered a submission to the Australian Government in regards to the NSW shark net trial, calling for them to be taken down and replaced by more sustainable alternatives. This submission will be read aloud in Parliament, representing the views of so many that love the ocean and its marine life.
Shark nets, meshing and drum lines are outdated, cruel and unnecessary. As Australia for Dolphins outlined in the submission, the Australian government needs to address a magnitude of issues with the shark nets, including by-catch.
The majority of animals killed in the nets are of no threat to humans. But these killer nets entangle dolphins, grey nurse sharks, turtles, stingrays, and seabirds. The most recent shark net trial saw a huge increase in the amount of these creatures being caught and killed in comparison with other shark attack prevention methods.
Alternatives to the lethal protection of shark nets presented by Australia for Dolphins in the submission included shark spotting, aerial surveillance, electric shark deterrence and eco-barriers. All of these options would decrease the amount of unnecessary by-catch and, with adequate funding, more effectively reduce the number of shark attacks.
Despite media focus on shark attacks, they are actually infrequent occurrences. During 2015-2016 there were only 11 shark attacks in NSW, none of which were fatal. The AFD submission urged the government to defeat stereotypes by increasing public education and awareness programs.
The submission also highlighted the importance of personal responsibility. People that choose to enter the ocean must accept the risks involved. Rarely will a shark attack a human, and never is it an intentional hunt. Oftentimes in case of an attack, a shark has simply mistaken humans for their natural prey, or they have been provoked. The majority of people that enjoy and love the ocean respect its marine life. The submission outlines the importance of the government aligning itself with these community feelings.
Through the submission, Australia for Dolphins hopes to bring to light these fundamental flaws with shark nets. Hopefully logic will prevail, and they will vote in favour of abolishing the nets.
You can read the full submission online, here: http://www.aph.gov.au/